A painting of Jesus by a Renaissance master worth 450,000 GBP has been discovered by an art expert hidden underneath another image which had been painted on top of it.
The 16th-Century work by leading Flemish Renaissance painter Jan Sanders van Hemessen was discovered by art trader Dorothea Apovnik from the Austrian capital of Vienna.
Apovnik, a trained art historian, bought the original fully clothed painting of Jesus Christ at an auction in Munich, Germany.
At the auction, the heavily soiled painting was advertised as a “17th Century work from the Italian school”.
Yet Apovnik spotted something unusual about the crown thorn which Jesus was wearing as she found the quality of it so high that she thought the painting could actually have had a Flemish origin.
Apovnik’s suspicion was confirmed when the painting was carefully examined and she discovered that the soiled, gloomy painting was actually painted over an earlier image, that was then exposed through restoration.
Underneath she discovered the bright, colourful picture of Christ the Redeemer in which the character could not have been more different than the dark and clothed painting which had been put on top.
Art expert David Pollack said: “It is rare that we discover a previously completely unknown painting.”
Peter van den Brink, the director of the Suermondt-Ludwig Museum in Aachen, then confirmed that the newly discovered painting was created by Flemish master Jan Sanders van Hemessen, and probably painted somewhere in the middle of the 16th Century.
According to van den Brink, who specialises in van Hemessen, the Flemish master played an important role in the development of the genre of Italian-inspired Flemish Renaissance art.
The master painted major religious and secular scenes and was also known for his outstanding portraits and large-scale expressive depictions of people.
The painting will now be auctioned at auction house Sotheby’s, which highlighted the “monumentality and idiosyncratic colour scheme” and the “technical prowess of Christ’s portrayal”.
The newly discovered painting, which has now been named “Christ as Triumphant Redeemer”, has been estimated by Sotheby’s to be worth between 400,000 and 600,000 USD (303,747 GBP – 455,620 GBP).
According to local media, Apovnik paid a tenth of that for the painting in Munich.
The auction will take place today [Wednesday] at Sotheby’s “Master Paintings Evening Sale” at 6pm local time in New York.